Summer Smiles, Grad Gifts, and Great Giveaways
- May 31, 2023
Initially, the mentored hunting program was open only to youth under 12 years of age. Still, the program has expanded in recent years to offer opportunities to unlicensed hunters of all ages. Mentored hunters are not required to take a Hunter-Trapper Education class before obtaining a permit to hunt through the program. The purpose of
Initially, the mentored hunting program was open only to youth under 12 years of age. Still, the program has expanded in recent years to offer opportunities to unlicensed hunters of all ages. Mentored hunters are not required to take a Hunter-Trapper Education class before obtaining a permit to hunt through the program. The purpose of the program, of course, is to attract more young new hunters, but the mentoring also provides the needed guidance and safety precautions.
The mentor must be a licensed hunter of at least 21 years of age, and special safety precautions are required when the mentored hunters are handling guns and bows. Of course, we older hunters didn’t have the chance to hunt game at that early age, so when I heard that a friend of the family’s eight-year-old son bagged his first gobbler, I had to check it out.
Saturday, April 22, was the mentored spring turkey hunting day, and when I visited with our friends Erik and Jessica Steinbacher, their son Brecken was quick to inform me he “got right up” at 4:30 to head out turkey hunting.
Brecken was accompanied by his dad, Erik, and his Uncle Dan. As Uncle Dan called, gobbles rang out as Brecken settled in between his dad’s legs. “When I heard the turkeys, I got really nervous,” Brecken told me. Surprisingly the first gobbler sighted walked away, still gobbling. After moving to a different spot and setting up a hen decoy, the calling soon brought in another willing gobbler. Erik had to pull the camouflage mask away from Brecken’s eyes before Brecken fired his 410 single shot — dropping his first-ever gobbler at 35 yards; his response was, “I want to thank God for this opportunity.”
It was great to hear that an eight-year-old got his first gobbler, but I also received a photo of my grandson, Gavin, holding his first-ever gobbler, also taken on that Saturday mentor hunting day. This was Gavin’s last opportunity to participate in the spring gobbler mentor hunt.
Gavin and his dad, Brian, got set up at just about daylight, and they could hear gobbling coming from several different directions. Soon a hen showed up in the clearing, and twenty minutes later, a gobbler showed up. Gavin said they did very little calling. The gobbler — with tail fanned — strutted, and called but walked away while still well out of range. Ten minutes later, two young gobblers came in from the right, only 10 yards away, and Gavin leveled his 12 gauge at the base of the gobbler’s neck and dropped his first-ever gobbler.
Two great mentored turkey hunts; one getting the first gobbler at the early age of eight and one getting the first gobbler on his last chance as a mentored hunter. It sounds like the mentored program is doing what it was intended.
8-year-old Brecken with his first ever gobbler.
Our grandson, Gavin, with his first gobbler on his last mentored hunt.